Today word got out that Zenimax was changing what information UI modders had access to when making mods in the Elder Scrolls Online. To whit:
– Locked down access to Unit information and ability cast functionality.
– Locked down access to combat events so that only your own outgoing spells can be monitored with any level of detail. Incoming damage and healing from spells have been restricted to only showing the value and not the name of the spell, type of damage or healing, or who is casting it.
This means that UI mods will not be able to display the hit, mana or stamina points of any enemy targeted in combat. It also means that you will not be able to tell what spell or ability the enemy is using through the UI. No more cast bar that has the spell the enemy is using in it to make it easy to interrupt the heal or big fireball. You can tell how much damage you took but not what kind. Meaning, you can see you took 120 points of damage but you can not tell whether it was fire damage, electrical or bleeds.You also can not tell what class or spec your enemy is by targeting him.
UI mods in the last beta would allow you to do this but not anymore. They disallowed all that information from the API. This has, of course, caused massive arguments and debates on MMO and fan forums everywhere and rightfully so. It is a huge change. It is also an interesting one.
There has always been two camps when it comes to UI mods. Ever since WoW made mods such a big deal, those camps have fought an endless battle between them. One camp wants as much information as they can get before, during and after the battle. The other camp believes that UI mods that allow so much information amounts to cheating and UI mods should give no advantage to the user over someone who is not using mods.
What is interesting about this is that, until now, developers have almost uniformly sided with the first camp. They allow most mods to display tons of information that is not in the base UI. As far as I know, Zenimax is the first developers to side with the second camp and disallow all that information not available in the base UI.
The question now becomes; does this make for a better or worse game?
We have access to so much information in most MMOs now, both through the base UI and UI mods, that we have become spoiled with it. We are used to having access to that information and taking it away from us becomes very jarring indeed.
For example, in WoW you can target an enemy player and immediately know his class and spec. You also get a very good idea of the quality of his gear by the size of his health and mana pool. You get all this information without even engaging him in combat. There are many times in WoW that I would decide not to attack a player during open world questing simply because I targeted him and saw that he was a class and spec that I had trouble with.
“Oh, shit! That’s a Destruction Lock! I’m going to leave him alone.”
But it goes further than that. I got to the point in WoW that I could predict exactly how the fight was going to go, simply by targeting the player. I wouldn’t even have to engage.
“Ok, I need to open with this, and then he’s going to do that and I will need to trinket out of it. Then I am going to have to interrupt when he does this and then do that. Blah, blah, blah….”
ESO, by contrast, will not allow for that. You won’t be given his class or spec. You won’t be able to tell the quality of his gear by his health, mana or stamina pool. You won’t know any of that information. The class design in ESO will make it even more difficult. The fact that any class can use any type of armor and wield any type of weapon will give few reference points to make it easy to determine the class before you enter to battle. Its almost a completely different game without this information.
Its almost like walking into a bar and picking a fight with a random guy. You might get a pansy who has never been in a fight in his life. But you might also get a black belt in judo that will proceed to wipe the floor with you. You simply will not know until you engage.
I think this might add an interesting facet to PvP, one which we haven’t seen out of many MMOs recently. It is really difficult to tell at this point because we are so used to having all that information easily at hand. We are literally, at this point, going in blind.